Senior Uttar Pradesh Congress leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi on Thursday joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in presence of party president Amit Shah. Speculations were rife about the possibility of Joshi joining BJP ahead of the Assembly polls in the state early next year. A prominent Brahmin face of the party, Joshi had served as Congress UP president between 2007-2012. As reported by the Indian Express earlier on Monday, Joshi was reportedly unhappy with “being sidelined” in the party. Besides that, her non-availability to the media for the last few days has only added fuel to the fire.
In a statement to the media, Joshi said she was hurt by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Khoon ki dalali’ remark with reference to surgical strikes recently conducted by India across several terror launch pads across the LoC. “I have served Congress for 24 years and have taken this decision for the benefit of the nation. How could Congress ask for proof of strikes?” she asked. She also praised party president Amit Shah for his style of functioning.
Hitting out at Rahul, Joshi said party president Sonia Gandhi used to listen to us, but not Rahul, adding that she wants to free Uttar Pradesh from misrule of the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party.
Joshi, who is the sister of Uttarakhand BJP leader Vijay Bahuguna Joshi, also slammed Congress’ poll strategist Prashant Kishor saying he can be a poll manager, but not a poll director.
In the meantime, the Congress leadership told the media that Rita’s joining the BJP will not affect the party in any way. Congress leader Raj Babbar said BJP’s agenda is to get all traitors together.
Reacting to the speculations about her joining BJP, her husband, P C Joshi had earlier said, “These are rumours with no basis. She is in Delhi and is suffering from a severe throat infection and is thus unable to speak to anyone.” A senior party leader who spoke to the Indian Express on the condition of anonymity had said while no one can speak on her behalf, but the fact is that she was feeling sidelined for obvious reasons.
Although Joshi was the face of UP elections in 2012, during Congress vice-president Rahul Gandi’s recent Kisan Yatra, she could not join the campaign at many places and had to return.